Customers of Century Theatres will continue to have free parking at the city parking garage adjacent to the 14-screen complex in Victorian Square, the Sparks City Council has decided, in a move designed to solidify Victorian Square’s redevelopment.
The council approved an agreement that guarantees movie-goers will have access to free parking.
The agreement is viewed as an important piece to keep the theater as a primary fixture in Victorian Square. And the theater is seen as an important element in the success of major projects planned for Victorian Square—Silverwing Development’s 236-unit apartment complex on more than four acres it purchased from the city and Greenstreet Communities’ renovation of the Bourbon Square Casino and Silver Club Hotel, which is being remodeled into residential units.
In a report to the council, city staff recommended approval of the agreement “because it may improve the likelihood of, though not assure, a movie theatre continuing to operate at Victorian Square.”
The report also said a downtown move theater is particularly important for attracting additional restaurants and other establishments to Victorian Square.
Century Theatres informed the city that free access to the parking garage, which has more than 700 spaces, would be an issue in its decision on whether to exercise an option to extend its lease with the owner of the theater building. That option expires this month.
The agreement for free parking will take effect when Century Theatres provides documentation that it has extended the lease. Under the agreement, free parking will continue as long as a movie theater is operated in the building or until Sept. 30, 2040, whichever is sooner.
In an original agreement that led to the development of the theater, the city agreed to provide a parking structure of no less than 700 stalls that could be used by movie-goers. The agreement, however, left open the possibility of the city charging a parking fee.
J. Carter Witt III, the president of Silverwing Development, said the free-parking arrangement is not only important for the theater but his company’s project as well. Silverwing plans to construct 12 multi-story apartment buildings, with retail and restaurant space on the ground floor of two of the buildings closest to the theater.
“It’s important to continue to have that theater financially in good shape,” Witt said. The loss of free parking “would be an extra load on their ability to draw people.”
Witt said his development’s target market is aimed at folks who want to live in Victorian Square while having ready access to entertainment, such as the theater, dining and other attractions.
“We want to create an entertainment corridor there,” he said. “If that parking garage became an expense, people probably are going to think: let’s go somewhere else.”